Beelink GKmini Review – An Intel Celeron J4125 mini PC reviewed with Windows 10 Pro, Ubuntu 20.04

Beelink GKmini Review

Beelink have recently released another small form factor (SFF) design similar to the traditional Intel ‘NUC’ called the GKmini which they have provided for review. Available as a fully configured Windows 10 Pro mini PC means it can be up and running straight out of the box.

Hardware Overview

The Beelink GKmini physically consists of a 115mm x 102mm x 43mm (4.53 x 4.02 x 1.69 inches) rectangular plastic case. It is an actively cooled mini PC and uses Intel’s 14 nm J4125 Gemini Lake Refresh processor which is a quad-core 4-thread 2.00 GHz processor boosting to 2.70 GHz with Intel’s UHD Graphics 600.

The front panel has a power button, a headphone jack, two USB 3.0 ports, and a ‘CLR CMOS’ pinhole that leads to a button which when pressed clears the CMOS. The rear panel includes the power jack, dual HDMI ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, a further two USB 3.0 ports, and a Kensington security slot.

The review model included a 256GB M.2 2280 SATA SSD drive and 8GB DDR4 2400MHz memory as well as the ability to add a 2.5” SATA drive:

Beelink GKmini teardown

There is a limitation in that there is only a single memory channel however not being soldered down does mean the memory is changeable.

The box specifications state:

Beelink GKmini specification

Box contents

In the box, you get a power adapter and cord, two different length HDMI cables, and a mounting bracket together with screws for attaching the device to behind a monitor. Also included is a user manual:

Beelink GKmini-user manual power supply

Review Methodology

When reviewing mini PCs I typically look at their performance under both Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) and compare them against some of the more recently released mini PCs. Since the start of 2021, I review using Windows 10 version 20H2 and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and test with a selection of commonly used Windows benchmarks and/or equivalents for Linux together with Thomas Kaiser’s ‘sbc-bench’ which is a small set of different CPU performance tests focusing on server performance when run on Ubuntu. I also use ‘Phoronix Test Suite’ and benchmark with the same set of tests on both Windows and Ubuntu for comparison purposes. On Ubuntu, I also compile the v5.4 Linux kernel using the default config as a test of performance using a real-world scenario.

Prior to benchmarking, I perform all necessary installations and updates to run the latest versions of both OSes. I also capture some basic details of the device for each OS.

Installation Issues

On Ubuntu, audio did not work from the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Only HDMI was available as a sound option and nothing was detected or consequently changed when headphones were connected:

ubuntu headphone issue

The ‘dmesg’ on Ubuntu also does not show anything when connecting/disconnecting the headphones.

Windows Performance

The Beelink GKmini comes installed with a licensed copy of Windows 10 Pro version 20H2. After upgrading to build 19042.985 a quick look at the hardware information shows it is aligned to the specification:

windows configuration hwinfo64 details windows disk management About windows info windows hwinfo AZW GK mini

A brief check showed working audio, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet.

I then set the power mode to ‘High performance’ and ran my (2021) standard set of benchmarking tools to look at performance under Windows:

For my specific set of Phoronix Test Suite tests the results were:

GKmini phoronix benchmarks

All these results can then be compared with other recent mini PCs:

windows 10 mini pc benchmark comparison may 2021
Click to Enlarge

After shrinking the Windows partition in half and creating a new partition I installed Ubuntu using an Ubuntu 20.04.2 ISO as dual boot. After installation and updates a brief check showed working Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet however audio did not work from the 3.5 mm headphone jack.

The key hardware information under Ubuntu 20.04.2 is as follows:

ubuntu disk management Beelink GKMini Ubuntu 20.04


I then set the CPU Scaling Governor to ‘performance’ and ran my Linux benchmarks for which the majority of the results are text-based but the graphical ones included:

AZW GK mini Geekbench 5 Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0

For the same set of Phoronix Test Suite tests the results were:

GKmini ubuntu pts overview

The complete results together with a comparison against other recent mini PCs are:

linux benchmark mini pc comparison

Browsers & Kodi

For real-world testing, I played some videos in Edge, Chrome, and Kodi on Windows and in Firefox, Chrome, and Kodi on Ubuntu. The following tables summarise the tests and results for each:

video playback browser and kodi tests

Gaming

As can be seen from the above Unigine Heaven scores the GKmini will only offer limited gaming performance.

Windows vs Ubuntu

Whilst a detailed comparison between the two operating systems is beyond the scope of this review, it is worth noting some of the key findings I observed. Looking at the performance tools common between the two OS showed that they were reasonably evenly matched.

However, video playback on Windows runs much better than on Ubuntu and given the price includes a Windows 10 Pro license it probably doesn’t make too much sense to use the device as a Linux HTPC.

Thermals

During benchmarking the maximum temperature I recorded on the top of the device was around 29.8°C in an ambient and somewhat cold room temperature of 14.4°C. Cooling the GKmini is a fan that starts immediately when the device is switched on and remains constantly running regardless of CPU temperature. The only fan setting in the BIOS controls either enabling or disabling it:

bios fan settings

Although the device didn’t become hot to touch as a result of the constantly running fan, it is audible making a low humming noise registering around 38 dBA on my sound level meter next to the device compared to 33dBA when the device was switched off.

Running a five-minute stress test on Ubuntu saw the CPU temperature rise immediately to around 53°C and then climbed to an average of around 69°C:

ubuntu stress test start

After the test completed the CPU temperature dropped immediately to around 50°C and then slowly back down to 32°C:

ubuntu stress test finish

Networking

Network connectivity throughput was measured on Ubuntu using ‘iperf’:

network throughput

Power consumption

Power consumption was measured as follows:

  • Initially plugged in – 0.8 Watts
  • Powered off (shutdown) – 0.1 Watts (Windows) and 0.1 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • BIOS* – 5.0 Watts
  • GRUB boot menu – 4.9 Watts
  • Idle – 4.2 Watts (Windows) and 3.4 Watts (Ubuntu)
  • CPU stressed – 12.8 Watts (Windows ‘cinebench’) and 13.5 Watts (Ubuntu ‘stress’)
  • Video playback** – 8.4 Watts (Windows Edge 4K30fps) and 12.9 Watts (Ubuntu Chrome 1440p30fps)

*BIOS (see below)
**The power figures fluctuate while running so the value is the average of the median high and median low power readings.

BIOS

After powering up the Beelink GKmini, hitting the F7 key results in a boot menu that includes access to the BIOS. The BIOS is unrestricted:

Final Observations

The GKmini is a very basic mini PC with low power consumption whilst still offering capable performance including 4K video streaming. It is relatively inexpensive given its inclusions of memory, storage, and Windows license and it comes with a one-year warranty.

HighlightsLimitations
Windows 10 ProSingle-channel memory
Configurable storage optionsHeadphones not working in Ubuntu

I’d like to thank Beelink for providing the GKmini for review. It currently retails at around $229 on Amazon US for a configuration of 8GB RAM and 128GB M.2 drive, and you can also find it on Amazon UK or Amazon EU. If Amazon does not ship to your country, you could also purchase the mini PC directly on Beelink shop.

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